"We were just going to eat it, but we thought about it a while and figured it was probably pretty special. So, we didn't want to kill it," Parker told the Tallahassee Democrat.
Parker took the clam to the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in Panacea, where researchers confirmed it was much larger than the average quahog, which typically weigh up to half a pound and measure up to 4.3 inches in length. Parker's clam was measured at 6 inches long.
Researchers said the alternating bands of light on the clam's shell indicate it was born in 1809, the same year Abraham Lincoln was born. Parker dubbed his find Aber-Clam Lincoln.
Lab officials said Lincoln is believed to be the fourth-oldest clam on record. The oldest, a quahog named Ming, was discovered off the coast of Iceland in 2007 and was determined to be 507 years old.
Parker and researchers at the lab agreed to return the clam to the Gulf of Mexico.
"We just figured he won't live very well in captivity. And I think he's earned the right to stay out there," Parker said.