Surfers, hatters are desperately trying to save a beached whale in the Rockaways

A ragtag group of surfers and construction workers jumped into the freezing water in an angry but futile attempt to rescue a beached whale in the Rockaways Tuesday morning.

The baby whale was first found washed up on the sand at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday by workers building a sea wall in the area, site supervisor Anthony Rossitto told The Post.

“A couple of my guys were going out in the field where their work detail was and they came back and they said there was a beached whale,” he said. “It looked like he was still reeling. He was alive.”

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.

Authorities had to drag the whale to shore after it died.
Paul Martinka
A whale on Rockaway Beach.
Rescuers tried in vain to save the 30-meter mammal.
Paul Martinka

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.

A whale on Rockaway Beach.
Before burial, the whale will undergo an autopsy.
Paul Martinka

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.

Additional reporting by Joe Marino.


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