methane bubbles
© Caters News AgencyA photographer has captured amazing images of methane bubbles in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. Pictured are some methane gas bubbles underneath Vermillion Lake

These lakes may look like they are full of bizarre floating sea creatures, but they are actually filled with thousands of frozen bubbles.

Snapped across Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, the natural wonders are made of highly flammable gas methane.

The gas - emitted by bacteria after they consume dead organic matter - is fairly harmless, but these bubbles can cause an explosion if lit.

Paul Zizka, 35, tracked down the natural phenomenon, which he photographed at Lake Minnewanka, the Vermillion Lake and Abraham Lake.

Abraham Lake is the most commonly-photographed spot for the spectacular sight.

But adventure-loving Mr Zizka, who loves to explore, revealed Lake Minnewanka offers rival views - but is just a little trickier to get to.

He said: 'All three lakes are ever-changing, cover wide areas and provide endless possibilities for the keen landscape photographer. They are magical places to explore and I find myself returning to them often. The methane bubbles depicted in the photographs have generated a lot of buzz primarily on social media. Many people have never seen the phenomenon before. People marveled at the beauty of them and wondered what they really were.'

The strange phenomena is caused when permafrost in the area begins to thaw out.

Organic matter stored in the bottom of the lake begins to thaw out, and microbes decompose it, releasing methane.

Methane does not dissolve into the water, and instead forms bubbles that rise to the surface.

In summer, the methane bubbles simply rise to the surface and pop to enter the atmosphere. However, when the lake is frozen in the winter, the bubbles become trapped on their way to the surface.

In a video, Professor Katey Walter Anthony from the University of Alaska likened it to a 'time-lapse photograph' of methane emissions from the lakes.

It should be noted, however, that the methane bubbles can be dangerous - a molecule of methane is 25 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide.

If you were to 'pop' one of the bubbles and hold a match over it, it would ignite.
The similarly bizarre 'Ice Pancakes' found in a Scottish river

Unusual pancake shaped ice formations that are more typically seen in Arctic and Antarctic sea ice were found floating on a river in Scotland back in December. The dinner plate-sized ice 'pancakes' have formed on a quiet stretch of the River Dee in Aberdeenshire.

The strange formations were photographed at the Lummels Pool, Birse, near Aboyne, by Jamie Urquhart, a biologist for the River Dee Trust.

The pancakes are thought to have formed from foam created by faster flowing water further upstream, accumulating in a corner of a pool.

Freezing temperatures last week caused the foam to freeze, and the current bashed them into a circular shape.

Normally pancakes form on ocean water or lakes around the Arctic circle where the movement of water keeps the ice from forming a flat sheet.

However, they do occasionally occur on rivers when temperatures drop low enough.

Officials at the Dee River Trust said it is the first time they have seen pancake ice form on the river.
More images here