Common throughout Solitary Islands Marine Park. Distributed throughout the Indo-West Pacific region, tropical and subtropical zones. In Australia recorded from Shark Bay in Western Australia, across the tropical north including the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef in Queensland south to central New South Wales.
Frequents dropoffs adjacent to coral reefs or islands, often singly or in small groups. Depth to 100 m but usually 25-30 m. Juveniles occasionally seen in shallow water in estuaries.
Numerous distinct pale spots and long tail aid identification. Spots fade when stationary on sand or mud, where it feeds on gastropod and bivalve molluscs, crustaceans, worms, octopuses and fish. Juveniles sometimes seen in shallow water in estuaries, particularly on a rising tide. Previously thought to be Aetobatus narinari, this species usually has a lighter background colour and is believed to inhabit the Western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, south to southern Brazil. Grows to 1.5 m width, juvenile in bottom photograph approximately 400 mm across.
R. Stuart-Smith, G. Edgar, A. Green, I. Shaw, Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland Publishers, 2015. p.32.
FishBase. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2018. World Wide Web electronic publication. https://fishbase.ca/summary/Aetobatus-ocellatus.html. Accessed 30/09/2018.
Atlas of Living Australia website at https://bie.ala.org.au/search?q=aetobatus+ocellatus. Accessed 30/09/2018.