There are several potential causes of death for G. ventalina. The greatest cause of mortality is the disattachment of a colony from the substrate, most likely by wave action and storms. The overgrowth of the sea fan by other organisms is also another leading cause of death, especially by the hydrocoralline Millipora alcicornis and some encrusting bryozoa. The cause of death is attributed to the lack of food and oxygen to the polyp. Recently, mortality has also been attributed to tumor growth. The tumors observed on G. ventalina exposed to environmental stresses include the presence of pollutants, rising water temperature, increased nutrient concentrations, and increased turbidity. The large tumor masses, which were most often concentrated at the axial bases of the affected clonies were clearly associated with tissue death (necrosis) and erosion of the affected coral. According to Cary, there is no evidence that gorgonian colonies ever die from old age.
- Morse, D., A. Morse, H. Duncan. 1977. Algal tumors in the Caribbean sea fan *G. ventalina*. 3rd International Coral Reef Symposium Proceedings.