Authorities in Northern Ireland are investigating a report about the alleged removal of potential artefacts from a protected Spanish Armada shipwreck.

The La Girona warship of the Spanish Armada sank near Portballintrae in 1588.

The Department of Communities said it received a report of diving activity within the restricted area around the wreck and the removal of potential artefacts over the July holiday period.

Access to the site is restricted and anyone diving in the area without a license can be prosecuted.

The La Girona sank near Portballintrae in 1588

The Department says the recent fine weather has led to an increase in recreational diving and increased numbers of people visiting historic wrecks.

However, it has reminded divers not to disturb the sites of La Girona and HMS Drake.

La Girona is one of 340 known ship and plane wrecks in Northern Irish waters, but one of just two with special levels of protection.

The other is the site of the World War One cruiser HMS Drake, which was torpedoed by a German U Boat in 1917 and sank in Rathlin Bay.

A diver at the HMS Drake wreck site

Diving the HMS Drake does not require any permissions but the Department of Communities said that the removal of artefacts without the appropriate consent may be an offence and people could face prosecution.

A patrol vessel will now be carrying out regular inspections of both sites over the remainder of the summer months.

Those who are diving are urged to do so on a "look but don't touch" basis and people should report any diving observed around the Spanish Armada wreck to police.