Retinal topography, cell density and sizes of ganglion cells in the killer whale (Orcinus orca) were analyzed in retinal whole mounts stained with cresyl violet. A distinctive feature of the killer whale’s retina is the large size of ganglion cells and low cell density compared to terrestrial mammals. The ganglion cell diameter ranged from 8 to 100 µm, with the majority of cells within a range of 20–40 µm. The topographic distribution of ganglion cells displayed two spots of high cell density located in the temporal and nasal quadrants, 20 mm from the optic disk. The high-density areas were connected by a horizontal belt-like area passing below the optic disk of the retina. Peak cell densities in these areas were evaluated. Mean peak cell densities were 334 and 288 cells/mm2 in the temporal and nasal high-density areas, respectively. With a posterior nodal distance of 19.5 mm, these high-density data predict a retinal resolution of 9.6′ (3.1 cycles/deg.) and 12.6′ (2.4 cycles/deg.) in the temporal and nasal areas, respectively, in water.

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