Epinephelus areolatus is a very widespread Indo-Pacific species that ranges from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to Natal (South Africa), east to Fiji, north to Japan, and south to the Arafura Sea (Russell and Houston 1989) and northern Australia. Recently it has been recorded from Tonga (Randall et al. 2003). Areolate grouper appears to be absent from Micronesia, Polynesia, and most islands of the western Indian Ocean (Randall and Heemstra 1991). It is often confused with Epinephelus chlorostigma.