SANIBEL, FL--If you have been to the beach recently, chances are you've seen or felt the recent effects of Red Tide. Scientists say 2012 was a year with nearly non-stop cases and now wildlife experts and biologists are saying the problem is getting much worse.
This weekend, high concentrations of Red Tide were reported near Lighthouse Beach and last week extreme levels around Sanibel were reported.
A trip to the beach should be relaxing unless it's plagued with red tide.
"Irritation inside my chest, just itchy," said tourist Jane Messmer.
The dead fish, potent smell and respiratory irritation is proving to be a common thing across southwest Florida. Biologist Richard Bartleson blames increasing amounts of nutrients making their way in to the gulf which feeds the red tide blooms.
"In the past it might, the normal red tide might start in November and last a few months," said biologist Richard Bartleson.
But recently, Bartleson says we have been affected by Red Tide on and off now for five straight months and each red tide bloom is lasting longer than usual.
With the growing population and infrastructure, more water runoff containing nutrients is washing to the gulf.
"The more nutrients you have, the longer the blooms can last and thats right, more normal now," said Bartleson.
A problem putting a damper on many of the daily activities for the thousands of tourists who flock to our area.
"We rented a boat for 8 hours and we came back after 6 because what we planned to do we couldn't do because of the dead fish," said Messmer.
The wildlife is also dramatically affected. In 2012, the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) in Sanibel says they saw 439 animals like birds and sea turtles who where poisoned by red tide and that's 168 more than 2011.
"For us it is starting to become an overwhelming problem for us to where sometimes I don't have enough money and enough staff," said Dr. Heather Barron with CROW
Animal doctors are also seeing a wider variety of birds and wildlife that are being affected and scientists say its getting harder to find out what we can do prevent more red tide,in part, because of the lack of funding.