He discovered a clam probably born in 1809; named it ‘Abra-clam Lincoln’
He was struck by its dimension, which indicated its age, he mentioned. Typically, the bigger the clam, the older it’s. Most quahog clams present in U.S. waters are between 2.8 and 4.3 inches lengthy, though they will develop bigger.
“I’ve seen that species of clam, however by no means one which huge and even near that huge,” mentioned Parker, 23, explaining that the common quahog weighs about half a pound and that his discovery was 2.6 kilos and 6 inches lengthy.
As bushes do, clam shells type yearly progress rings. Parker counted the exterior rings with a fingernail and reached 214 — that means the clam would have been born in 1809, identical to Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth U.S. president.
Parker determined to call his discovery “Abra-clam Lincoln.” Folks on social media beloved it.
Though some quahogs dwell for tons of of years, “nearly all of them are deceased between 30 and 40 years,” Parker mentioned, including that recognizing this specific species at Alligator Level, which is on the Gulf of Mexico, additionally was uncommon.
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He decided that Abra-clam was a part of the mercenaria campechiensis species, often known as the southern quahog.
“Our space of Florida has the slowest progress fee of the entire gulf inhabitants, which is fairly cool,” Parker mentioned, explaining that southern quahog clams are typically discovered between the Chesapeake Bay and the West Indies.
He thought of consuming the clam. It could make a fantastic addition to the feast he was cooking that weekend, he thought, and the shells can be giant sufficient to make use of as bowls.
“On the time, we had been planning to make a chowder out of it, however we considered the truth that it most likely was particular,” mentioned Parker, who saved the shellfish in a bucket of water. “We determined to not eat it, and I introduced it to work on Monday.”
His colleagues, he mentioned, had been delighted by his discovery.
“They had been all simply as excited as I used to be, as a result of we’re all marine science nerds,” he mentioned. “It was a fairly cool day.”
Jack Rudloe, who co-founded the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in 1963, was impressed.
“It’s comparatively uncommon to seek out them,” he mentioned.
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Rudloe gave kudos to Parker for arising with a catchy identify for the clam, which Parker mentioned undoubtedly precipitated people to take note of a mollusk to which they in any other case wouldn’t give a second thought.
“It’s actually stunning. I didn’t suppose it could be this widespread,” mentioned Parker, who spent a number of days doing analysis on the clam. “I by no means anticipated this to explode as a lot because it did.”
“What’s actually fascinating about this species is that they’re simply extraordinarily powerful. They’ll survive a very long time out of water,” he mentioned. “They bought their identify ‘mercenaria’ as a result of Native People would truly use them as currency.”
In his analysis, Parker additionally realized that he could have miscalculated Abra-clam’s age. Slightly than counting the skin bands, he realized that he wanted to rely the inside bands to find out its true lifetime — which might require killing the animal. Additional evaluation led Parker to foretell that the clam is between 107 and 214 years previous, however one clam skilled he later consulted suspected that Abra-clam Lincoln could be even youthful.
“We could have been off to start with, however general, there’s no actual telling the precise age of that clam with out killing it,” mentioned Cypress Rudloe, the chief director of Gulf Specimen Marine Lab and Jack Rudloe’s son.
“On the finish of the day,” Cypress Rudloe continued, “I’m extremely pleased with Blaine. Simply to have the ability to get the eye to marine life on a nationwide degree like that is outright superb.”
No matter how previous the marine animal is, Parker determined its identify ought to stay Abra-clam Lincoln, as a result of it’s what made the shellfish a celeb of kinds.
“It’s inspiring to see this many individuals fascinated with marine science on this capability,” he mentioned. “It feels good.”
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Parker additionally determined that Abra-clam Lincoln ought to be let out. On Feb. 24, lower than per week after he discovered the shellfish, he launched it into the ocean.
“I decided that it was too particular to let it die in captivity or be made into soup,” Parker mentioned. “I felt so much higher turning it unfastened.”