There are major anatomical differences between Mysticetes and Odontocetes. Instead of teeth, the Mysticetes have plates rooted in the roof of the mouth. These plates, called baleen, fray into a series of hair-like bristles. After engulfing a portion of the water column, some Mysticetes like the Blue Whale forcibly eject the water through the baleen; which filters out creatures such as zooplankton, krill, and small schooling fish. Other Mysticetes like the Gray Whale, skim the waters as food adheres to the inside edges of the baleen. Odontocetes use their teeth to catch fish and squid.
Mysticetes have a sternum composed of a single bone, no sternal ribs, symmetrical skulls, and paired external nasal openings. Odontocetes have a sternum composed of three or more bones, sternal ribs, asymmetrical skulls, and a single nasal opening.
The Dolphin Academy works closely with a non-profit group called the Southern Caribbean Cetacean Network, (SCCN). This organization monitors the diversity and behavior of whales and dolphins in the region - responding to stranding events and testing the local environment's health. The following species have been identified by SCCN around the island of Curacao.