The group quickly alerted the Parks Department, NYPD and Department of Environmental Protection that the animal was at 73rd St. and Broadway Beach.
But before first responders got there, workers and some nearby surfers tried their own rescue attempts.
“There was a group of surfers in the area and they were jumping in the water and trying to spin it,” Rossitto said. “But it’s 35 feet. I can only imagine how much it weighs. They didn’t have time to turn him around and get him out.
A city park ranger said the whale, believed to be a 3- to 5-year-old calf, was “upright … and breathing” but was clearly in “distress.”
The animal had obvious injuries, including numerous scratches and bruises. It is not known when it was washed ashore, and Rossitto speculated that it had washed ashore. It was not clear what kind of whale it was, but witnesses assumed it was a sperm whale.
The workers tried to tie a heavy rope to the whale to pull it out, but it was too heavy.
“We did everything we could. The surfers really tried, but they’re no match for a 35-foot whale,” he said.
The NYPD confirmed the whale’s death and said EMS and the Harbor Division were dispatched to the scene.
Animal officials are now en route to the beach where they will perform an autopsy, a city park ranger said. The whale is then cut open and buried in the sand below the water line.
“It’s a sad day,” said one surfer involved in the rescue.