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News at noon: SeaWorld ends orca breeding; record hot February; new designs for the Pier; Jill Kelley writes a book; gambling in Florida; growing hops here; March Madness, Rays; and more fog on the Skyway

Fog hovers around street lights early Thursday near the top of the Dick Misener Bridge, which approaches the Sunshine Skyway Bridge from St. Petersburg. The Florida Highway Patrol, for the second time this week, closed the Skyway because of heavy morning fog. [GRAHAM BRINK | Times]

Fog hovers around street lights early Thursday near the top of the Dick Misener Bridge, which approaches the Sunshine Skyway Bridge from St. Petersburg. The Florida Highway Patrol, for the second time this week, closed the Skyway because of heavy morning fog. [GRAHAM BRINK | Times]

SeaWorld has announced it is ending its practice of killer whale breeding after years of controversy over keeping orcas in captivity. The company also said it is ending theatrical shows at its parks and will introduce "new, inspiring natural orca encounters." We're exploring what that could mean for the SeaWorld park in Orlando.

Earth got so hot last month that federal scientists struggled to find words, describing temperatures as "astronomical," "staggering" and "strange." They warned that the climate may have moved into a new and hotter neighborhood.

A clearer picture of St. Petersburg's new Pier Park emerged today when architects unveiled schematic designs for the $46 million project. The designs, which you can view here, will be used to develop construction documents for the downtown landmark that city officials hope will be completed by 2018.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin and Kriseman's chief of staff, Kevin King, will be traveling to Cuba next week to see the Tampa Bay Rays play an exhibition game and pursue closer ties with the island nation.

Coming soon, according to the New York Post's gossipy Page Six column: a book by Tampa's own Jill Kelley. You won't believe what the title is.

What's next for gambling in Florida? When legislators finished their annual session last week without a gaming bill or a compact with the Seminole Tribe, they raised the stakes on the future of casinos in the state, and it's precisely where gaming opponents want it. Instead of lawmakers deciding the future of expanded gambling, that decision will now be made by the courts in pending lawsuits before the Florida Supreme Court and a federal judge.

When Katie Sanders' Japanese translator asked "Do you like animals?" Katie wasn't sure whether it was a real question or a warning. You can decide when you read about Katie's taste-test of the octopus cracker and other delicacies on her trip to Japan.

After making his own beer for a few months, Brian Pearson wanted fresher hops. Good hops, he realized, were key to good beer, since they shape its flavor and aroma. But fresh hops were nowhere to be found in Florida. Now Pearson is part of a group of UF researchers that plans to test how well hops grow in Florida with a two-year study in Hillsborough and Orange counties.

Who's ready for some basketball? March Madness begins with UNC-Wilmington against Duke at 12:15 p.m. on WTSP-Channel 10. Get ready for it with Tom Jones' Guide to the NCAA Tournament.

The Rays are in Clearwater to take on the Philliestoday. Matt Moore is on the mound. Keep up with the action in our live blog.

Matt Baker has a theory for why Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher ripped his Seminoles after their opening spring practice. In involves Jim McElwain.

ANOTHER FOGGY MORNING

Florida Highway Patrol troopers closed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge again this morning because of dense sea fog. Here's a video from the Dick Misener Bridge on the approach to the Skyway shot about 7 a.m.

Video footage from Dick Misener Bridge

Heavy fog closed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge again Thursday morning. Times staffer Graham Brink shot this video a few minutes ago from the Dick Misener Bridge, approaching the Skyway.

Posted by Tampa Bay Times on Thursday, March 17, 2016

News at noon is a weekday feature from tampabay.com. Check in Monday through Friday for updates and information on the biggest stories of the day.

News at noon: SeaWorld ends orca breeding; record hot February; new designs for the Pier; Jill Kelley writes a book; gambling in Florida; growing hops here; March Madness, Rays; and more fog on the Skyway 03/17/16 [Last modified: Thursday, March 17, 2016 11:49am]
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