Captain Doc White

Doc White has lived to not only tell the story but to capture it in stunning photographs. That’s how the rest of us get to see the world Doc has explored firsthand. From the Arctic to Australia, Doc White brings to life the wonders of nature, a heart-stopping show that he has shared over the years in books, magazines, film, television and online.  And, just recently, as a testament to Doc's work, he has been elected a fellow in the Royal Geographical Society.

Distinguished Work

Doc’s blue whale image has been judged one of the best 25 underwater photographs ever taken and another image was named one of the best 40 wildlife images ever captured. Commended in the competition for Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Doc’s images have been published around the world in such media as the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, International Wildlife, and BBC Wildlife. He has just finished his new book of images, The Fish in the Forest, as well as his first work of fiction, Tempest in a Teacup.

Drawn To Adventure

R. Shelton White spent his youth sailing and exploring the Outer Banks of his native North Carolina. He read the stories of Blackbeard and all the other pirates who once raided his coastal waters. In 1958, Doc got to fulfill his dream of scuba diving in Key West, Doc realized that there was more treasure underwater than he had ever imagined, an entire realm just waiting to be captured in photos.

Swift Boat (The US Navy's Swift Boat, not ours)

Armed with a degree from the University of North Carolina and a commission in the US Navy, Doc was given command of a Patrol Craft Fast, better known as a Swift Boat in 1969. During the next couple of years, Doc worked on special operations in the Mekong Delta and on the Cambodian border of Vietnam. His missions were productive but dangerous. Doc was wounded three times and awarded two Bronze Stars for valor, the Purple Heart, the Cross of Gallantry and the Navy Commendation Medal for Valor. 

From Sea to Air

In August 1972, Doc was assigned to Naval Flight School and received his pilot wings stationed at NAS Miramar in San Diego, in December 1973. He flew the F-4 Phantom with Fighter Squadron 154 and made “Double Centurion” on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger. A later assignment as an adversary pilot, training others in aerial combat, put Doc with VF 126 and, on occasion, at Naval Fighter Weapons School, better known as TOPGUN. Doc is still licensed to fly multi-engine jet, prop, and float planes.

Master of all things adventure

Though a pilot, Doc’s love of the sea was his first love. After leaving the Navy and briefly as a Continental Airlines pilot, Doc started a charter-dive operation in San Diego and became a dive master and a ship’s master licensed to command 500-ton vessels on any ocean. Over the ensuing years, Doc designed, constructed and operated two vessels: the 54-foot Mirage and the 85-foot Mystique. His operations took him around the world: Australia, New Guinea, Sri Lanka, the Galapagos, Alaska, Baja California, the Arctic and throughout Caribbean and Mediterranean waters. His home base is the San Diego Yacht Club and he’s a member of the Explorers Club and The Royal Geographical Society. In keeping with his commitment to the ocean environment, Doc and his wife Ceci donate their time and images in support of environmental groups and causes that protect the world’s oceans and rivers.

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."   -- Benjamin Frankin

As a veteran global photographer, Doc White’s unforgettable images have been published in numerous wildlife books and magazines. Tempest in a Teacup is his first work of fiction. This all-too-real fiction has been brewing throughout the course of Doc’s extraordinary life as a Swift Boat captain. F4 fighter pilot, ship’s master, boat builder, dive master, underwater photographer. Tempest in a Teacup is a tribute to those who risk it all to discover the unknown about our world and ourselves.

Kindred Spirits

Doc had the good fortune to meet and marry Ceci over 27 years ago. Ceci grew up in the White Mountains of Arizona where she excelled as a rodeo rider, specializing in ribbon roping and barrel racing. Though a stranger to the ocean until she met Doc, Ceci took to the water like the champion she was, becoming a certified diver and earning her 200-ton master ticket from the US Coast Guard. With Doc, she has traveled throughout the Pacific Ocean, from Alaska to the Galapagos and on to Papua New Guinea and Australia. In past voyages, Ceci has both captained and crewed charter vessels and works with Doc as a camera assistant and safety diver. Doc will be the first to tell you that Ceci is the main reason he’s able to photograph intimate encounters with the ocean’s most elusive creatures. They are drawn to Ceci wherever she goes and responds to her presence with what appears to be an almost mythical awareness of her strong love and respect for their very being. Thanks to Doc’s unrelenting documentation in images and journals, Ceci’s adventures will soon appear in the upcoming book, Making Waves.

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