Galapagos Penguins have the smallest breeding range and population size of any penguin, with less than a thousand breeding pairs. Unlike most other penguins, Galapagos Penguins have no particular breeding season, and may have as many as three clutches (broods) in a single year. They moult before they breed, ensuring that early failure of their food resources will not result in starvation during the moult. Breeding is stimulated amongst Galapagos Penguins by a drop in sea surface temperatures to below about 24 degrees Celsius, which corresponds to the presence of nutrient rich currents, and in turn an abundance of prey. Nests are made along turbulent rocky shores within about 50m of the water, mostly on the islands of Fernandina and Isabela. Burrows are sometimes dug in suitable volcanic deposits, but often nests are in caves or crevices in old fissured larva. Adults remain around the breeding sites throughout the year. Two eggs are laid 4 days apart, but adults do not normally re-lay if the clutch is lost. Incubation of the eggs takes 38 – 40 days, and is shared equally by both parents. Chicks are brooded for the first 30 days, and this is performed by both parents, with daily change-overs. By the end of the 30 days, the chicks have developed a mesoptile plumage that is brown above and white below, which serves more to protect the chicks from the strong sun than to keep them warm.
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