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A buoyant vortex ring produced by an underwater bursting balloon was studied experimentally. The effect of dimensionless surface tension on characteristics including rise velocity, rate of expansion, circulation, trajectory, and lifetime of the vortex ring bubble was investigated. Results showed reasonable agreement with the literature on vortex rings produced by conventional approaches. It was observed that as the dimensionless surface tension increased, the rise velocity, the circulation and consequently the stability of the vortex ring bubble increased; however, the rate of expansion tends toward constant values. A semi-analytical model is proposed by modifying the drag-based model presented by Sullivan et al. (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 609, 2008, pp. 319–347) to make it applicable to buoyant vortex rings. The modified model suggests that the vortex ring expansion is essentially due to the buoyancy force. An expression is also derived for the circulation in terms of the initial volume of the balloon and the depth at which the balloon bursts.