Tens of thousands of signatures have been added to a petition calling for tourists to be punished after they were filmed torturing a swordfish to death in Greece.

The event, which took place earlier this month, was filmed by bystanders in the town of Chalkida on the island of Euboea.

Watched by a crowd of sunbathers, several young men can be seen attempting to wrestle the fish and throw stones as it tries to escape the shallows.

ΑΠΙΣΤΕΥΤΟ! Ψάρι στην θάλασσα εντόπισαν λουόμενοι στην Χαλκίδα! Το σκότωσαν. Για άλλη μια φορά οι έλληνες απέδειξαν πως ενωμένοι μπορούν να ξεπεράσουν κάθε κίνδυνο και απειλή για την δημόσια υγεία του έθνο. *το βίντεο ανήκει στο eviazoom.gr

Posted by Alkis Mpoukouras on Friday, 12 July 2019

The English-language news website Greek Reporter said bathers were initially frightened by the appearance of the fish:

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"At first, the bathers panicked as they thought the fish was a shark and immediately ran out of the water. However, when it was discovered that it was a swordfish, they began to chase it and throw objects at it which resulted in its death."

According to The Independent the fish was reportedly found dead, after the attack.

Harbour officials say that the cause of the animal's death is not yet clear, and they are awaiting an autopsy, but many Greeks are blaming the holidaymakers.

The footage has gone viral on Greek social media with a petition to find and persecute those captured in the video.

A petition has gained 27000 signatures to punish those involved. Photo / Supplied
A petition has gained 27000 signatures to punish those involved. Photo / Supplied

The petition which has already gained 28,000 signatures will be handed to Greek police and animal welfare officials.

It is time to stop the horrible tactics of animal abuse in our country," the petition states. "We ask for a fine to everyone involved… as well as to the port [officials] that allegedly were there and did not intervene."

"We know, of course, that this is not a protected species, but our voice must be heard so that the unacceptable mob behaviour towards every weak creature finally stops."

Greek media has quoted a spokesperson for the Chalkida Port Authority as saying they had not realised the animal had come into contact with bathers.

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"A minute after the incident with the bathers, a lifeguard of the harbour found it dead," he said.

After its discovery by harbour officials, the body of the swordfish was transferred to a morgue in Chalkida for an autopsy by veterinary surgeons which will later determine the cause of death.

It is not yet clear if the local prosecutor has seen the footage or if will be deemed a crime committed. However, locals and animal lovers, worldwide, are furious.

One commentator deemed the spectacle "a shame for the human species" with another commenting that the video has been "seen by so many, it'll be impossible for [those who took part] to get away with it."