The animal on the cover of Automating System Administration with Perl, Second Edition,
is a sea otter. North American sea otters make their homes along the Pacific coast,
near the kelp beds containing the shellfish that make up the majority of their diet. Sea
otters can be found in great numbers in Alaska and on beaches as far south as California.
Sea otters are agile, intelligent mammals and are known to make ingenious use of tools.
Floating on their backs, they hold a shellfish such as a mussel or abalone on their bellies
and use a rock to break the shell.
Intensely social, sea otters gather to float in groups called rafts. They are excellent
swimmers, propelling themselves swiftly through the water with their flipper-like,
webbed back paws. Their thick fur provides them with efficient insulation in the water.
At times, their existence has been threatened as they have been mercilessly hunted to
near extinction for their fur.