Extremely disturbing images of dugongs chained and caged underwater in Indonesia as a tourist attraction have gone viral on the internet.

Dugongs are fully aquatic herbivorous mammals. They are an endangered species found in warm coastal waters from the western Pacific Ocean to the eastern coast of Africa.

Divers, who stumbled upon these caged dugongs while swimming near the remote island of Kokoya, off North Maluku, recorded a video and and clicked pictures and shared it on social media.

Local fishermen reportedly tied the marine mammals to chains to earn some quick money from tourists by allowing them to capture images of these trapped sea creatures. So insensitive were the locals to these creatures that they separated the mother dugong from her calf and kept them in different enclosures.

In this case, the scars on mother dugong's tail shows that the creatures were kept tied for weeks.

The circulation of video and images over social media caught the attention of animal welfare authorities who later arrived at the island and got the fishermen to set the mammals free.