Uncommon in the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific region: from South Africa to Polynesia. In Australia recorded from Exmouth in Western Australia, across the tropical north to Torres Strait, in Queensland throughout the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea, south to northern New South Wales and including Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands.
Frequents areas of coral and rocky reef, in shallow lagoons and protected reef. Juveniles common in thickets of staghorn corals. Depth to at least 50 m but often shallower.
Highly variable colouration with spots on all fins. Similar E. quoyanus has fewer polygons between eye and nose and rounded black tail margin. Solitary and secretive, is usually found in coral thickets under crevices or coral slabs. Preys on small fish and crustaceans. Grows to 32 cm.
R. Stuart-Smith, G. Edgar, A. Green, I. Shaw, Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland Publishers, 2015. p.96.
FishBase. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2018. World Wide Web electronic publication. https://fishbase.ca/summary/Epinephelus-merra.html. Accessed 26/05/18.
Atlas of Living Australia website at https://bie.ala.org.au/search?q=epinephelus+merra. Accessed 26/05/18.