Surfers and construction workers tried to save a stranded sperm whale on Tuesday. The young female whale, believed to be between 3 and 5 years old, washed up on Rockaway Beach in New York in the United States.
Construction workers discovered the 10 meters (32 feet) long animal at around 7:30 am while they were working on a nearby beach. The animal was still alive when she was first seen.
“A couple of my guys were walking out to the field where their work detail is, and they came back in and told me there’s a beached whale out there,” the job site supervisor Anthony Rossitto told the New York Post.
Surfers jumped into freezing water and tried to push the whale to deeper waters, but the animal was too heavy. She passed away shortly after 9 am, the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMSEAS), who examined the animal, said.
“A bunch of surfers were in the area, and they jumped in the water and tried to turn her around,” Rossitto said, adding that the animal had clear injuries, including cuts and bruises.
Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales and are known for their distinctive square head. They are found in waters around the world and are one of the deepest diving mammals, capable of reaching depths of up to 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) in search of food.
They feed primarily on squid, but also eat fish and other marine animals. Sperm whales are social animals and often live in pods of 15 to 20 animals.
It is unclear why the whale ended up on the beach. Some possible explanations include illness, injury, or disorientation. AMSEAS said that the sperm whale was the 6th large whale to strand in New York since October 20.
After an animal autopsy is done, the whale will be cut into pieces and buried in the sand under the waterline.