NEW YORK – A massive whale, some 60 feet (18 meters) long, beached itself on Wednesday morning in New York City, where, despite rescue efforts, it seemed to have little chance of survival.
Experts said the ailing whale was a finback, the second biggest animal species in the world after blue whales, and came ashore in the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens.
Police and firefighters immediately began carefully spraying it with water to keep it alive until experts could take over.
But Mendy Garron, a regional specialist for the federal NOAA Fisheries service, told AFP the sea mammal was “really emaciated, not a good body condition at all.”
It was “not moving a lot,” she added, saying that this assessment meant the whale was unlikely to get back to sea.
Garron said rescue efforts were hampered by the incoming tide.
“There are now a few feet of water surrounding the animal,” Garron said. “Responders don’t have direct access to it.”
Garron said rescue workers will have to wait out the tide cycle.
She had earlier explained that the experts would decide what to do after assessing the animal’s health.
But she said the best course of action is often to euthanize a beached whale as “in many of these cases, when an animal of this size strands, they are usually compromised in some form or another.”
Garron noted that, on average each year, “we’ve got a couple of large whale species strandings in NY. Occasionally they are alive.”
The sea mammals beach themselves for different reasons. It could be “due to natural causes, old age or disease, and sometimes, for human cause instances, like a boat strike or fishing interaction,” she explained.
Adult finbacks can reach up to 88 feet (27 meters) and weigh up to 70 tonnes.
They are found in all the world’s oceans and they can live to 100 years old.
According to the Riverhead Foundation, at least 25 species of whales and dolphins have been seen in the New York region.