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SAKATA, Yamagata Pref. (Kyodo) Even pregnant sharks are feeling the recession.

An underwater cave near an island in Yamagata Prefecture has long been a draw for divers who want to watch groups of small sharks gather there to give birth.

The banded houndshark is gentle, allowing divers to safely approach and even touch them.

This year, however, the human visitors to the cave near Tobishima Island are down by about half, said Haruo Saito, 59, who runs a local diving shop. He blames the recession.

“They look scary in appearance, but even beginner divers can watch them from up close. We’d like many people to come and see them,” Saito said.

More than 20 sharks, most of them pregnant, were swimming in the cave recently.

The sharks flitter about in the cave 10 meters beneath the surface from early May to early July. A spot where divers can regularly see large numbers of sharks is rare in the sea around Japan.

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