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Finback Whale Beaches In New York City

Rescuers are trying to help an 18-metre-long whale that has beached itself in New York City.

Experts said the ailing whale, reportedly a female, was a finback, the second biggest animal species in the world after blue whales, and came ashore in the Breezy Point neighbourhood of Queens.

Police and firefighters immediately began spraying it with water to keep it alive until experts could take over.

But Mendy Garron, a regional specialist for the federal fisheries service, said the sea mammal was "really emaciated, not in good condition at all". She said it was not moving very much and that this assessment meant the whale was unlikely to get back to sea.

Experts will now decide what to do after assessing the animal's health.

But Ms Garron 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".

The sea mammals beach themselves for different reasons - natural causes, old age or disease, and sometimes because of collisions with boats.

Adult finbacks can reach up to 27 metres and weigh up to 70 tonnes. They are found in all the world's oceans and they can live to 100 years old.

At least 25 species of whales and dolphins have been seen in the New York region.

Breezy Point, which was badly damaged in Superstorm Sandy, lies at the end of the Rockaway peninsula where the Atlantic Ocean gives way to New York Harbour.