A last-ditch effort on Thursday evening to save the humpback whale stuck on a sandbank in the Wadden Sea failed to free the 12-metre long mammal.
Sea rescue workers used a helicopter and a net in an effort to move the whale to freedom but there were problems with the net and the helicopter then ran out of fuel.
Experts had said earlier the animal is dying, but unexpected signs of life led them to renew their efforts to move the whale to deeper waters.
The area where the whale is stuck has been closed to shipping but no more efforts will be made to save him, marine experts said.
Using a lethal injection to put the animal to sleep is not an option because of the thick blubber under his skin, staff at the Ecomare centre said.
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