This study aims to provide an objective mapping of the underwater noise and its sources over an Adriatic coastal marine habitat by applying the self-organizing maps (SOM) method. Systematic sampling of sea ambient noise (SAN) was carried out at ten predefined acoustic stations between 2007 and 2009. Analyses of noise levels were performed for 1/3 octave band standard centered frequencies in terms of instantaneous sound pressure levels averaged over 300 s to calculate the equivalent continuous sound pressure levels. Data on vessels' presence, type, and distance from the monitoring stations were also collected at each acoustic station during the acoustic sampling. Altogether 69 noise surveys were introduced to the SOM predefined 2 × 2 array. The overall results of the analysis distinguished two dominant underwater soundscapes, associating them mainly to the seasonal changes in the nautical tourism and fishing activities within the study area and to the wind and wave action. The analysis identified recreational vessels as the dominant anthropogenic source of underwater noise, particularly during the tourist season. The method demonstrated to be an efficient tool in predicting the SAN levels based on the vessel distribution, indicating also the possibility of its wider implication for marine conservation.

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