The Daystarter: Will ‘Lionfish Challenge’ put dent in invasive species?; Amazon Prime Day today; Rays lose their most valuable trade chip

A lionfish on display at the Florida Aquarium. [Times files]
A lionfish on display at the Florida Aquarium. [Times files]
Published July 16 2018
Updated July 16 2018

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.

• Temperatures will again peak around 90 along the coast and the lower 90s inland, according to the National Weather Service. Isolated to scattered thunderstorms will develop near the coast during the morning and early afternoon, then increase as they push inland during the late afternoon and early evening.

• As you head out for your morning commute, check out our live blog for the latest traffic updates and road conditions across Tampa Bay.

• Florida has been organizing a "Lionfish Challenge" for three years in an effort to encourage divers and fishers to target the invasive species. Participants win prizes for turning in fish. This year’s event began in May and will go until Sept. 3. But how much good will it do? Experts say the challenge raises public awareness but probably will do little to put a dent in the lionfish population. Read Justin Trombly’s story this morning on

• Today is Amazon Prime Day. At 3 p.m., giant online retailer Amazon will unroll its biggest sales of the year to celebrate its birth month. That could mean either big savings, or the urge to buy stuff you don’t really need because it seems like a good deal. So, you have to be careful, Sara DiNatale warns. Diligent, really.

• The Instant Pot pressure cooker is expected to again bubble to the surface as one of the top sellers. If you snag one or are already in the huge fan following for this gadget you might consider the hilarious decals people are putting on their Instant Pots

• The Rays lost an ill-tempered game in extra innings Sunday, when Brian Dozier hit a walkoff grand slam in the 10th inning to give the Twins an 11-7 win. The Rays head into the All-Star break at 49-47.

• The immediate reaction around the Rays to the extent of catcher Wilson Ramos’ hamstring injury is disappointment, everyone knowing how much he was looking forward to playing in Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Washington. But they are likely using more colorful terms in discussing the impact on their long-range plans, as Ramos was among their most valuable trade chips, Marc Topkin writes.

• Dr. Murray Shames, the division chief of vascular surgery at Tampa General Hospital and USF Health, is a lead researcher in an early Food and Drug Administration clinical trial testing a new method to treat abdominal aortic aneurysms, Justine Griffin reports. Shames and his team of surgeons are one of five medical institutions charged with operating with and collecting data on this new device — a flexible, lightweight tube as wide as two garden hoses pushed together — before it can advance to a wider trial stage. Shames says this new device is the future of treating the most risky aortic aneurysms and improving their often fatal outcomes.

• Two years ago, Haeder Alanbki, an Iraqi living in Florida, applied to become a U.S. citizen. For several years, he risked his life as an interpreter for U.S. forces in Iraq, accompanying troops on scores of dangerous missions and getting stabbed several times by insurgents for working with the Americans. Once he arrived here, he obtained four state security officer licenses, also requiring vetting. But despite all this, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has yet to grant Alanbki his wish to become an American. So he has filed a lawsuit against the government to try and speed up the process. Meanwhile, he waits and worries. Read Howard Altman’s story this morning.

• When President Donald Trump unveiled his second Supreme Court justice pick, Florida’s Democratic candidates for governor warned of dire consequences for access to abortion. With all of the talk about Kavanaugh’s stance on abortion, we wanted to see what he’s said and how he’s ruled on the issue. a href="" target="_blank">Read PolitiFact Florida’s analysis this morning.

• Columnist Ernest Hooper writes that La Segunda Bakery, the world’s largest producer of Cuban bread, will open a new location in South Tampa on Wednesday.

France won its second World Cup title Sunday, downing Croatia 4-2 in Moscow. Play was briefly delayed in the second half when four protesters ran onto the field. Russian punk band Pussy Riot later took credit for the incident — watched from the VIP seats by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

• The Croatia Club of Tampa Bay threw a watch party for the World Cup Final between Croatia and France on Sunday, and staff writer Langston Taylor sat in with them. Fans were caught between reflecting on the state of their country, clamoring for a championship and appreciating what they already had — an afternoon together with family and friends. Read his story this morning on

• Plan your week! Here are the top things to do this week in Tampa Bay including the Metrocon anime convention and concerts by Rascal Flatts, Chicago and Reo Speedwagon.