A Canadian tourist was in the right place at the right time when he saved an elderly man from an alligator attack while on vacation in Florida.

WFLA in Tampa reports that Canadian Scott Pearson and his wife, Andrea, were in Lakeland, Fla., visiting his parents at a nearby retirement community.

The pair went out for a walk on Monday, only to have their stroll interrupted by a strange scene at a nearby lake.

A nearly three-metre-long alligator had attacked an elderly man, later identified as 85-year-old George Ihle, gripping his foot in its jaws.

“"It was surreal, is the only way I could sum it up,” Scott told WFLA by phone. “It was like right out of a movie."

Pearson and his wife ran to help other onlookers free Ihle from the jaws of the beast, while others called 911.

Luckily, they were able to get the foot loose, and Pearson used his shirt as a tourniquet to slow the bleeding from Ihle’s leg until emergency workers could arrive.

Police said that Ihle was not seriously injured in the attack, but was taken to a nearby hospital as a precautionary measure.

Deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, who responded to the initial call, later visited Ihle in hospital where he’s recovering.

The gator was apprehended by officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission a day after the incident. Ihle’s sneaker was discovered in its mouth when it was removed from the lake.

With files from The Associated Press