Last month, we told you about Oceana's open call for nominations for this year's Ocean Hero contest. And boy, did you respond. Oceana sifted through 500 nominations from all around the nation and came up with 12 finalists — six in the adult division and six in the junior division.

The adult finalists include:

Maria Rita D’Orsogna of Northridge, Calif., has been fighting offshore drilling in the Italian region of Abruzzo since 2007. Dubbed the “Erin Brockovich of Abruzzo,” her campaign helped convince the Italian government to deny at least a dozen offshore permits for drilling in 2010.

Zach Rome of Brooklyn, N.Y., founded The Schooba Academy to teach low-income students about science through scuba diving … all at no cost.

Nancy Caruso of Garden Grove, Calif., has taught more than 4,000 students to grow kelp in classroom nurseries. That kelp has been planted in the ocean by the 250 volunteer scuba divers — all trained by Caruso.

Zander Srodes of Gainesville, Fla., is the creator of “Turtle Talks,” an interactive sea turtle seminar for kids. About 250,000 of his sea turtle activity books have been distributed.

Peter Wallerstein of El Segundo, Calif., has personally rescued more than 3,000 marine mammals and birds in Southern California

Dirk Rosen of Richmond, Calif., has more than 25 years of deepwater engineering experience and founded the nonprofit organization Marine Applied Research and Exploration (MARE).

The junior finalists include:

Dylan Vecchione (12) of Pacific Palisades, Calif., started ReefQuest, an organization that engages kids in reef conservation, after seeing coral bleaching in his favorite reef, Maui’s Kehikili Reef. To date, more than 4,000 kids have taken ReefQuest-sponsored classes.

Carter (10) and Olivia Reis (8) of Fayetteville, Ga., started One More Generation to raise awareness about endangered species around the world.

Wyatt Workman (8) of Glendale, Calif., has raised nearly $4,000 for ocean conservation through artistic endeavors that include a book.

McKenzy Haber (14) of Alaska hosted the first-ever TEDx conference for teens in Homer, Alaska, last year, with the theme of sustainability.

Sophi Bromenshenkel (8) of Richfield, Minn., has raised more than $3,500 for The University of Miami’s conservation program through email campaigns, lemonade and hot chocolate stands. Her funds pay for satellite tags for sharks.

Andrew Hayford (16) of York, Maine, has participated in nearly 30 beach cleanups and hosted 10 of his own. With Blue Ocean Society, he designed the Keep Our Beaches Clean Campaign.

Each of these nominees is an absolute inspiration to me, particularly the kids! Want to vote for your favorite Ocean Hero? Click here to cast your vote. Voting ends on May 31.