April 17, 2014

The NCAA named women's triathlon an "emerging sport," but it doesn't look like it's emerging anytime soon.     Photo: Getty Images

Slow Start for Triathlon As NCAA Sport

Schools won't commit

In January, the NCAA adopted women's triathlon as an "emerging sport" after at least a dozen universities told the organization in a letter that they would consider adding a women's varsity program. The collegiate triathlon will include a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike segment, and 10-kilometer run—a total length of about 32 miles.

Fast-forward about four months, and only one college, Marymount University in Virginia, plans to compete at the NCAA level, according to the New York Times.

However, more than 160 colleges and universities have triathlon clubs, and the race combining swimming, cycling, and running is actually quite popular in the college-age demographic. Each year, about 1,200 collegiate triathletes compete at the national championships, according to USA Triathlon, the sport's governing body.

Some schools that signed the letter say that when asked to commit, they were unable to allocate funds for the new sport. Even schools such as University of Colorado at Boulder, where students train in the country's triathlon hotbed, have no plans to sponsor a team anytime soon.

With this pattern, triathlon could face the same fate as women's archery, badminton, and handball—other "emerging sports" that never quite emerged.

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Sea lion pups remain with their mothers until they are more than a year old.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Lonely Sea Lion Seeks Company in Almond Orchard

Traveled more than 100 miles from the sea

An enterprising sea lion pup is making headlines after courageously making his way more than 100 miles inland and earning the name Hoppie in the process. Although Hoppie was likely lost and headed nowhere in particular, his adventure up the San Joaquin River and subsequent land journey has earned comparisons to the classic children's film Homeward Bound.

Ranch hands found Hoppie in an almond orchard roughly eight miles west of Modesto, California. After determining that the pup was indeed a sea lion and not an otter, ranch boss Billy Lyons called assistant wildlife refuge manager Billy Hopson. "When I found it, it was actively moving along the edge of a farm field road near the almond orchard," said Hopson. "The animal had already walked at least half a mile from the river and was obviously confused."

The creature is now safely housed at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, where he is being fed five pounds of fish a day to fatten him up. It is still unclear as to why Hoppie, believed to be just a year old, set out on his fantastic voyage. Sea lion pups remain with their mothers until they are well over a year old, so it's quite possible that Hoppie was abandoned or his mother was killed, causing him to flee into the great unknown in search of comfort.

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Public urination made a splash in Portland news for the second time in three years.     Photo: chapsss/ThinkStock

Portland to Flush Peed-In Reservoir

38 million gallons of urine trouble

Boys, the world is not your bathroom.

A 19-year-old Portland man's decision to urinate in the city's Mount Tabor Reservoir 5 pushed the city to flush all 38 million gallons of it.  

On April 16, a security officer noticed a group of young men trespassing in the reservoir. In addition to climbing the fence and taking selfies, video footage of the incident shows one man getting a little too comfortable at the edge of the water.

"When you see the video, he's leaning right up because he has to get his little wee-wee right up to the iron bars. There's really no doubt what he's doing," Water Bureau administrator David Shaff said in an interview with the Oregonian. "It's stupid. You can see the sign that says, 'This is your drinking water. Don't spit, throw, toss anything in it.'" The three offenders were issued citations.

Water Bureau officials quickly took the water supply offline and are planning to test the water for contaminants today. Shaff said he doesn't think the incident yielded a public health risk, but the bureau will flush the reservoir during the course of the week and again in a month as a precaution.

"The bottom line is that our commitment is to serve water that's clean, cold, and constant," Shaff said. "That doesn’t include pee. Not from people, at least."

The draining, roughly a 17 percent depletion of the city's drinking water reserve capacity, marks the second time Reservoir 5 has been emptied as a result of urination. Portland emptied 7.8 million gallons of water when a man, assuming he was at a sewage treatment plant, peed into the reservoir in 2011. 

Water Bureau representative Tim Hall told Outside that he's not at all concerned about drinking water shortages. According to Hall, at least one of the city's reservoirs is already empty. 

"We're fortunate enough to have an abundance of water," he said. "We have the ability to not have to rely on our reservoirs."

For the time being, we suggest not relying on Portland's reservoirs either.

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A trail camera shot of P-22 in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.     Photo: Griffith Park Trail Cam/YouTube

L.A. Mountain Lion Poisoned

Rodenticide the likely culprit

Scientists captured the well-known mountain lion of Los Angeles's Griffith Park this week after noticing the cat was showing signs of illness and possibly poisoning. The four-year-old mountain lion likely ate another animal, such as a rat or coyote, that had consumed rodenticide, which in turn caused the big cat to sicken and develop mange.

The mountain lion, referred to as P-22 by the National Park Service, is a well-documented and heavily watched cat. The National Park Service periodically recaptures P-22 to change the batteries in his GPS collar, which they use to monitor his movements and even inspect what he's killed. 

The team of scientists quickly treated P-22 for his illness and returned him to Griffith Park, where he survives primarily on deer and rodents.

After P-22 made the park his home, he was collared in March 2012 and has made a number of appearances strolling through the Hollywood hills. The mountain lion is thought to be from the Santa Monica Mountains, meaning he crossed both the 101 and 405 freeways to arrive at his new home.

Often called "the most urban mountain lion in Southern California," scientists frequently urge nearby residents to leave the cat alone.

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California gray wolves could be listed as endangered later this summer.     Photo: Chris Muiden/Wikimedia

California Mulls Wolf Protections

Could be listed as endangered

Even though gray wolf packs haven't roamed California for almost a century, the state is considering listing the animal as endangered.

The discussion to protect the species started after a lone wolf from Oregon was found wandering throughout the Golden State in 2011. Some wildlife officials hope it's a sign the animals can repopulate their former habitat within 10 years.

Nothing is going to happen for at least 90 days. The California Fish and Game Commission decided Wednesday to wait three months before determining whether to list the wolf as endangered.    

As California mulls more protections for wolves, many states have relaxed their rules on killing the animals. On Wednesday, the Arizona House of Representatives approved a Senate bill that allows ranchers to kill endangered Mexican wolves in self-defense.

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"Veggie" grows red romaine lettuce.     Photo: NASA/Gioia Massa

"Outredgeous" Veggies Headed into Space

On SpaceX resupply mission

An unmanned capsule dubbed Dragon is scheduled to launch atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on a resupply mission to the International Space Station this Friday, and it's carrying some weird stuff: 

  • Robonaut 2 (yes, a robotic astronaut) will get its legs on Sunday morning if weather at the launch site holds off. The legs span nine feet, have seven joints each, and could assume much of the high-risk maintenance outside the space station. Initial testing begins in June.
  • NASA's new laser, OPALS (Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science), could aid future deep-space missions, beaming data back to Earth at up to 50 megabits per second.
  • Science cheerleaders, composed of space-minded NFL and NBA cheerleaders, swabbed 48 microbes worth of historical landmarks back home to see how they behave in microgravity.
  • NASA is in its fifth iteration of PhoneSat, a cubesat—the little guy's satellite—made from off-the-shelf smartphone parts. Developed to see how cheap electronics perform in a space vacuum, PhoneSat 2.5 does not make calls.
  • And space veggies. The miniature space farm grows “Outredgeous” lettuce seedlings.

SpaceX's rescheduled its third resupply mission to the space station for Friday, 3:25 p.m. EDT after a helium leak delayed initial takeoff on Monday.

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