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Bluegill is the state fish of Illinois.

Bluegill is the state fish of Illinois. In 1960, Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley presented Prince Akihito of Japan with a gift of 18 bluegill. Later, those fish would change the underwater ecosystem of Japan forever.

The mayor, the prince and the gift that invaded Japan's biggest lake

In the fall of 1960, Prince Akihito of Japan went on a whirlwind tour of the U.S. to celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Akihito stopped in Chicago for only 21 hours, but the Shedd Aquarium was at the top of his sightseeing list. At the aquarium, Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley presented the prince with a gift of friendship: 18 bluegill, the Illinois state fish -- which some say the mayor scooped from an aquarium tank himself.

This week, Curious City is doing an exchange with Interlochen Public Radio, who bring us the story of how bluegill pushed Japan's native fish species to the brink and threatened commercial fisheries.

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