There, trapped inside cages on the shallow ocean floor, were two dugongs — rare marine mammals closely related to manatees.
One of the divers, Delon Lim, told The Dodo that the animals, also known as “sea cows,” appeared to be a mother and her calf held in separate cages. While the younger dugong was kept without restraint, the adult was bound by a rope wrapped around her tail.
The pair had been captured by a local fisherman, apparently to profit from tourists.
“He asked for some money if we want to see the dugong or take a picture,” Lim said.
Although it’s unclear how long the dugongs were held captive, Lim suspects they’d been trapped for more than several weeks.
“It seems so,” he said. “The ropes are worn and torn. The scars and the wound on her tail are so deep. It was very heartbreaking.”
The divers were allowed to enter the cages with the adult dugong, capturing photos and video of her unimaginable ordeal.
Nemu makhluk malang ini saat surface interval di Pulau Kokoya (https://goo.gl/maps/vwuRhtXGL8q). Dugong ini ditangkap, diikat dan dikurung dengan makanan seadanya. Kondisi ekor yg diikat luka parah. kita sudah melakukan pendekatan ke nelayan agar dugong tangkapan ini dilepas dan dia sudah bersedia (walaupun kita sendiri ragu). Karena cuma sejam di pulau tsb, kita tdk tau dilepas beneran atau ngga. Sebenarnya dugong yg stress ini jika dilepas jg belum tentu bisa survive. Mengingat hewan ini tergolong terancam punah, jika ada yg punya kenalan di balai konservasi mungkin bisa dibantu forward dan ditangani. Dugongnya ada dua ekor, satu yg lebih kecil tidak terikat namun dikurung di jaring yg berbeda. Anyone, please help…. *update : sudah dilepaskan dibantu oleh mentri Susi*
Dugongs, like their manatee counterparts, are considered at threat from human activities, though capture like this isn’t believed to be common. There are other animals, however, that are held in similarly deplorable conditions for the sake of tourism.