The Generalized Lorenz-Mie theory(GLMT), which describes the interaction between spherical particles and laser pulses, is firstly introduced in this paper. Then scattering properties of ultrashort laser pulses by air bubbles in the sea water are studied, including the scattering efficiency factor, extinction efficiency factor, phase function and degree of polarization, and influences of the bubble size, pulse duration and scattering angle on pulse scattering properties are discussed. Finally, pulse scattering properties of bubbles are compared with those of suspended particles in the sea water. The results show that laser pulses have the smoothing effect, which strengthens with decrease of the pulse duration, but have no influences on the critical angle scattering and Brewster angle scattering. So they could be measured to distinguish between air bubbles and suspended particles and thus to detect air bubbles. This will have certain significances on pulsed laser detection for wake bubbles. The results also show that small bubbles could enhance the backscattering of the sea water, which is advantageous for pulsed laser detection for wake bubbles.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.